Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Polls, polls, polls

We learnt in 2016 that polls tell you nothing about Trump.  They didn't even give him a chance in the primaries and Hillary had her victory speech ready to go on election night.  So do the polls below tell us anything?  Probably not

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey would easily beat President Trump in a 2020 match-up, a new poll indicates, but Democratic and liberal household names Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders would best the Republican by more.

The new survey, conducted by SSRS and commissioned by CNN, found that Winfrey would best Trump among registered voters by nine points, with the talk show queen receiving 51 per cent and the sitting president getting 42 per cent.

Former Vice President Joe Biden would take 57 per cent of registered voters surveyed, to Trump's 40 per cent – winning by the biggest margin of the three – while former Democratic candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, would beat Trump 55 per cent to 42 per cent.

President Trump trounced 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with the white vote, 57 per cent to 37 per cent, according to CNN's exit polls.

That margin evaporates in the newest poll, with Biden getting the most support among white registered voters, beating Trump 50 per cent to 48 per cent.

Sanders and Winfrey perform better too, with Sander attracting 48 per cent to Trump's 49 per cent, and Winfrey receiving 45 per cent to Trump's 50 per cent of white registered voters.

The poll also shows white women voting for the Democratic candidates instead of the Republican, like they did in 2016. 

Biden wins white women by 23 points, while Sanders has a 17-point edge and Winfrey wins the group by 14 points.

Former Vice President Biden has said he's purposely not making a decision about 2020 yet, while Sanders – an independent who ran for the nomination the last time around – hasn't laid out his plans yet.



Minimum Wage Hikes Cause Hundreds of Bus Boys to Lose Jobs at Red Robin

Red Robin, a popular burger chain, will cut jobs at all 570 of its locations because, chief financial officer Guy Constant said, “We need ... to address the labor [cost] increases we’ve seen.”

To put it differently, Red Robin is cutting these jobs because of bad government policy: namely, hikes in the minimum wage. On January 1, some 18 states—from Maine to Hawaii—increased their minimum wage.

Founded in Seattle but headquartered in Colorado, Red Robin hopes to save some $8 million this year by eliminating bussers from their restaurants. (Bussers, or busboys, clear dirty dishes from tables, set tables, and otherwise assist the wait staff.) According to the New York Post, the company saved some $10 million last year after eliminating “expediters,” who plate food in the kitchen.

Despite what many people, including policymakers, would argue, this is an altogether painfully predictable response to increased labor costs. It’s basic economics. The “first law of demand” teaches us that when the price of a good or service increases, people will tend to buy fewer units. Conversely, when the price of a good or service decreases, people will tend to buy more. This idea is usually presented no later than chapter 3 in any econ 101 textbook.

Labor is no exception to this rule. If the cost of employing workers increases, we’d expect companies to hire fewer workers and even to let some go.

Some might say, “Well, why can’t Red Robin just make a smaller profit and stop being greedy?” Consider, however, that pretax profit margins for the restaurant industry typically range between 2 and 6 percent. This means there’s not a lot of room for error or cost increases before realizing a loss.

Now suppose that a restaurant like Red Robin is operating normally when minimum-wage hikes are imposed. Let’s take Colorado as an example. On January 1, Colorado’s minimum wage increased by about 10 percent—from $9.30 to $10.20 an hour.

Have the workers at the restaurant—the cooks, the servers, or the bussers—acquired any new skills? No! Will they magically become more productive and begin to generate more revenue for their employer as a result of this policy? No! The workers simply become more expensive to employ. So what is a company like Red Robin to do?

One option would be to add a surcharge to customers’ bills to recoup some of the losses from the higher labor costs. This is precisely what happened in San Diego following a minimum-wage increase—much to the chagrin of policymakers and customers alike. Another option would be to increase menu prices—a particularly unpopular move when it comes to luring in customers.

A third alternative would be to fire some staff and make due with a smaller workforce. Restaurants like Chili’s have taken to installing ordering kiosks at its tables, allowing customers to order and pay their tabs without ever having to speak to a waiter. Other restaurants, like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, have also begun to substitute technology for human beings in the form of automated ordering kiosks.

Note that three groups could lose here. First, Red Robin loses. No company likes firing employees, incurring higher costs, or trying to provide the same quality service with fewer workers.

Second, customers may lose through poorer service or higher prices.

And third, workers lose if they find themselves without jobs.

While we may not like the idea of someone trying to live on $5 or even $7 an hour, we can likely all agree that earning a small wage is better than earning nothing at all due to unemployment. It’s easy to vilify restaurants and other companies when they respond to higher costs with layoffs. But it’s important to place the blame where it belongs. In this case, it’s bad policy—not incompetence, not corporate greed—that’s causing people to lose their jobs.



The Supreme Court was not the only area where Trump has had wins in appointing conservative judges

The past year was probably the most consequential in modern history for the appointment of conservative judges to the federal courts, with a successor to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who shares his judicial philosophy, and a historic number of appeals court judges who will shape the law for two generations. What led to this transformative moment was a unique presidential election, the first in American history during which the composition of the federal judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, was cited as a major factor for a large swath of voters. The issue might well have been decisive to the outcome of that contest.

Since the 2016 election, President Donald Trump has nominated judges who have a demonstrated commitment to, as the president puts it, interpreting the Constitution “the way it was meant to be.” In so doing, Trump is ensuring that his legacy will last far beyond his term in office. Tax and health care reform can quickly evaporate with future changes in congressional majorities, but federal judges serve for life, often making decisions about our Constitution and laws that affect one or two generations. History shows, just as well, that federal judges can block a president’s agenda, preventing the executive branch from accomplishing its goals when it comes to deregulation, national security and other aspects of domestic and social policy reform.

The year of “extraordinary accomplishment,” as Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell described it, began with the nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the seat left vacant by Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. He will likely serve for decades, and may well be the deciding vote in enormously important cases touching on free speech, religious liberty, gun rights and the scope of authority of the administrative state.

Less noticed, but almost as important, are the many federal appeals court vacancies the president had an opportunity to fill last year. The Senate confirmed 12 nominees to fill those vacancies on the appeals courts, which was an all-time record for a presidential administration in its first year. The record was previously shared by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon, with 11 in their respective first years. Only three were confirmed during President Barack Obama’s first year.

Statistics, however, tell only part of the story. What makes this judicial sweep so significant is the extraordinary backgrounds of Trump’s nominees. Gorsuch and the president’s appeals court nominees have among the most distinguished credentials possible and demonstrated records of applying the Constitution and laws as they are written. Many have explicitly rejected, in word and deed, making decisions based on their own political preferences, or any partisan agenda, and they have demonstrated and promised independence, invoking the separation of powers, federalism and checks and balances that are the hallmarks of limited government under our Constitution. Many have records of refusing to take issues unaddressed by the Constitution away from the people and those they elect to represent them.

Though relatively young as judicial appointees, they almost uniformly have some of the most extraordinary professional resumes in the legal system, with service on state supreme courts or other very distinguished posts in government or on leading law school faculties or at the best law firms in the country. Several, such as Joan Larsen of Michigan, Allison Eid of Colorado, David Stras of Minnesota and Don Willett of Texas, have been leading conservative  intellectuals on their state supreme courts. Others, such as Amy Barrett of Norte Dame and Stephanos Bibas of the University of Pennsylvania, are leading constitutional law scholars committed to the original meaning of the Constitution. And, several, including Gregory Katsas and Kyle Duncan have argued important limited government cases before the Supreme Court. People with such talent and philosophical commitment are very likely to prove transformational for the future of our legal culture. That is particularly meaningful given the widespread skepticism held by so many Americans toward government institutions.

In a year when legislative victories were hard to come by, the “judicial wave” of 2017 was a very important benchmark of political success. And, looking ahead to the rest of 2018, it is likely to become the GOP leadership’s case-in-chief for redoubling unified and intense action on the many federal judicial nominees the president still has to nominate and get confirmed.



Dow Grows 31% in Trump's First Year, Highest Gain Since FDR in 1933

First-year stockmasrket and job figures tend to reflect business expectations but will not be continued if promises are not kept. Trump has however delivered on his promises

Although most of the liberal media are not reporting this, it is now a fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Dow, experienced growth of 31% in Donald Trump's first year as president, the greatest growth for a president's first year since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, some 84 years ago, reported CNBC.com.

The Dow is a stock market index of 30 major publicly traded companies. It measures how the 30 companies traded on the stock market in a standard trading session. The Dow was first calculated in 1896 and is considered one of the more reliable ways to measure economic growth. Some of the 30 companies in the Dow today include Apple, Boeing, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Nike, Visa and Walmart.

In its story, CNBC reported that the 30-stock index "had surged more than 31 percent since Trump's inauguration," which "marks the index's best performance during the first year of a president since Franklin Roosevelt."

In FDR's first presidential year, 1933, the Dow soared 96.5%, according to FactSet and CNBC. In Trump's first year it rose 31.3%.

In Harry Truman's first year, the Dow grew 30.9% and under Barack Obama, first year, it rose 28%.

Baird investment strategist Bruce Bittles told CNBC, "This is all about policy. You've got lower taxes, less regulation and confidence in the economy is high. Things are firing on all cylinders."



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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